During a time of national debate over immigration, students had the unique opportunity to hear advice and council from immigration attorney Michael J. Goldstein and a panel of international alumni during “Life After F-1,” an event presented by the Frank G. Zarb School of Businesses’ Graduate Career Services department along with International Student Affairs.
The event took place on Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the multipurpose room of Hofstra USA. Goldstein began his presentation by describing the current immigration climate as “lousy,” which was met with laughter. He also remarked that the climate had created an “atmosphere of fear” in regard to legal immigration. Goldstein advised students to do extensive research into current immigration and visa laws, immigration lawyers and employers. He warned that even esteemed news outlets, such as The New York Times, have been inaccurately reporting changes in policies.
Goldstein then presented on the process after F-1, the visa that allows international students to study in the United States. Following F-1, graduates can remain in the states to work if they have an H-1B, a separate visa for which their employers petition.
The process of obtaining an H-1B is long and strenuous. Goldstein pointed out that the system of H-1B was designed without statistics or studies of international students and with no regard for supply and demand. Instead, the current cap of 85,000 H-1B’s was determined through compromise between politicians and businesses.
Goldstein refers to the process of petition review as a “lottery” due to the arbitrary nature of the system. He emphasized that the 85,000 allotted H-1B’s are simply not enough to cover the large number of international students who wish to remain in the United States for work.
“The immigration caps have not been set according to the United States’ ability to integrate immigrants. It has a more nationalist perspective,” said Talia Kowalski, a sophomore political science major. “It’s terrible to tell someone to come learn here and then tell them immediately to leave.”
Hofstra University currently has over 900 international students from more than 70 countries. The office of International Student Affairs (ISA) works to ensure that international students can maximize their time in the United States.
Michelle Cheung, assistant director of ISA, stressed the impact that international students can have on domestic students in college settings. Cheung received her master’s degree at Mississippi College after completing her bachelor’s degree in China. Having experienced life as an international student in a small, southern college, Cheung believes international students have more opportunities to explore at Hofstra.
“We’re talking about diversity in a college in one way, but I think that international students make diversity in a different way,” Cheung said.
Ethan Martin, a sophomore double major in computer science and mathematics, believes that domestic students can gain a “larger global sense” by studying at schools with international students.
The members of the Zarb International Alumni Panel offered advice to seize these opportunities offered through Hofstra. Miansen Wang, a Financial Analyst for Goldman Sachs, spoke of networking through the Zarb School of Business, and multiple panelists recalled positive experiences and connections made through the career and internship fairs. The alumni offered experiences of diligence and agency, both of which are two essential traits to have as an international student, according to Goldstein.
If students are unable to obtain an H-1B after graduation, they are given a limited period of time before they must leave the United States. The Trump administration has been vocal about implementing stricter enforcements and regulations for students who remain in the United States after the expiration of their F-1 visas.
“It affects us for applying for OPT-related jobs, so that could make life harder for us,” said He Xiang, a graduate student pursuing his MBA in business analytics. OPT refers to another type of visa that allows for temporary employment of a student with an F-1 visa.
Goldstein ended the event on a positive note, encouraging students to stay determined. “Don’t let the gloom dominate,” he said. “Keep working hard, take it step by step, one day at a time. You’re going to make your own luck; you’re going to be prepared.”